New Customer Newsletter Launched

Etesia UK has published a new customer focused newsletter, aptly named ‘Cutting News’, with the first issue now available through their nationwide network of dealers, the company direct and via a digital download on the company’s new website.

The newsletter is in addition to the regular dealer newsletter which the company produces and provides user stories for their range of ride-on and pedestrian mowers, brushcutters as well as the complete range of Pellenc Lithium-ion battery powered equipment as well as details of new products launched and company news.

“I think people will enjoy reading the newsletter,” says Les Malin, Etesia UK’s General Manager. “We always try to be as informative as possible and keep everyone up-to-date with all of our developments. We will be producing the newsletter on a regular basis to both new and existing customers, but if you need any extra help or advice on the range of environmentally-friendly products we offer from both Etesia and Pellenc, we are always happy to speak to you.”

The newsletter can be digitally downloaded by visiting the company’s brand new website – www.etesia.co.uk and click on the news section.

Winter Warmers with Etesia

Last winter saw much of the UK grind to a halt by the worst weather seen for over 30 years, seeing  local authorities, landscapers and grounds maintenance professionals struggle to keep roads, paths and car parks safely open for users.

To help keep these areas open this winter, Etesia UK has announced a series of ‘Winter Warmer’ offers on their popular Hydro 100E (MVEHHN), Hydro 100D (BPSP), Hydro 80 (MKHP2), Hydro 100D (BLHP & BPHP), Hydro 124DN and Hydro 124DX four-wheel-drive models with up to £5,000 of savings.

The versatility of Etesia’s ride-on mowers can be enhanced with a range of utility attachments such as a cab, snow blade, salt/sand spreader or brush.

All Etesia accessories are easily fitted to most ride-on models in the range. The front-mounted snow-blade can also be angled left or right and lifted when travelling between sites.  

For safety on icy surfaces, wheel chains which ensure grip to avoid skidding and keep the machine moving in falling and settled snow are also available. The easy-to-attach trailed sand/salt spreader is especially useful on icy roads, walkways and other exposed sites.

One organisation who has recognised the benefit of increasing the versatility of their ride-on mower is Birmingham’s Botanical Gardens and Glasshouse. Malcolm Taylor, who took on the role as Maintenance and Ground Services Manager last summer had been re-assessing the best means of keeping all the grassed and the hard surface in top order at all times.

Previously, grass cutting had been carried out by a triple mower, but this was in need of costly repair, and hard surface maintenance was always a labour intensive business. A single-source unit seemed to be the logical choice and after looking at what machines there were on the market he opted for an Etesia set-up because it offered everything the Gardens needed for surface maintenance.

“The snow plough was in action just after purchase, clearing walkways of the snow earlier this year, and throughout the winter months the brush attachments were in daily use keeping the Garden’s terraces and walkways free of leaves and debris.”

Haileybury makes light of its leaf problem thanks to battery blower

Autumn leaf fall is a massive problem to Eamonn Murphy, Grounds and Gardens Manager at Haileybury, one of the UK’s leading boarding schools, in Hertfordshire. The co-educational public school, founded in 1862, has grounds of over 500 acres with hundreds of trees, most of them native deciduous, with oak, birch and chestnut the principal offenders in terms of leaf shedding.

For weeks on end Eamonn and his team have the daily task of seeing that not only are the school’s pitches as leaf-free as possible, but that the surrounds of the teaching blocks and the main buildings are safe from fallen leaf hazards and always look in tip-top order.

Eamonn’s dilemma had always been keeping a balance between controlling leaf accumulation in the central school areas and minimising disruptive noise. His petrol leaf blowers needed air defenders for the operative, so teachers and the bursary did not welcome leaf blowing albeit necessary. Eighteen months ago he was introduced to Pellenc lithium-battery equipment by his machinery dealer, RT Machinery of Aylesbury.

After a trial period of using these he soon realised that noise need no longer be an issue for work close to school buildings and bought a set of the equipment.  Eamonn has had it in full active use at the school for just under a year now and the Pellenc Airion leaf blower, which weighs just 2.6Kg, is keeping the walkways and drives close to the school free of leaves.

“The acoustics of the school buildings and their surrounds are such that noises are much exaggerated,” said Eamonn. “Control of these light machines is very easy and actually more responsive than our existing petrol ones.  Set on level one, when you’re 10 metres away from leaf blowing, you can barely hear it. Even on the top level four, it sounds a bit like a hair-drier, no more than that.

“At first my staff – and to be honest me too – were a little sceptical about whether such quiet machines would have the power to do the job. We have been proved wrong. Leaf blowing is more than adequately dealt with, and having a multi-purpose power source in the battery back-pack is a real asset. Switching from job to job, which we have to do all the time, is so easy now.  

“The reduction in fuel expenditure is a big factor for us. In a single year we must have saved hundreds of pounds.

“I believe petrol-driven hand equipment will soon be a thing of the past. I pride myself on always looking for the latest and best solutions to problems, especially if they offer an environmentally friendly bonus.  I do not like to stand still when it comes to equipment and methods of working. Health and Safety and EU Directives keep on mounting, so it’s vital to conform or, better still, be ahead of the game. I like to think that, by doing jobs like leaf blowing using battery-power, Haileybury is a pace setter.”   

As a groundsman Eamonn obtained his initial training at Otley College in Suffolk and at Ipswich Town under Alan Ferguson, who is now in charge of pitchcare at the Football Association’s National Centre at Burton. After joining Haileybury as a Deputy Head Groundsman ten years ago, within 18 months, Eamonn took over as Head Groundsman and last year in a re-organisation took on the wider responsibility of Grounds and Gardens Manager, which has given him the opportunity to undertake and manage all operations at the school concerning non-building work.

In his time at Haileybury he has achieved HND in Sports Turf Science at Writtle College. He heads up a team of 13 groundsmen and gardeners and looks after 13 grass pitches for rugby, cricket, football, lacrosse and hockey, plus a sand-based artificial hockey pitch. Thanks partly to him, and with the support of the Bursar, the school is these days self-sufficient in equipment and manpower for all its sports pitch and garden needs.

As well as seeing that Haileybury now has sports pitches to match any at rival public schools, Eamonn has a one rare and notable international distinction. He is the International rugby pitch consultant to Kazakhstan. Haileybury has sister schools in the Euro-Asian republic in Almaty and a recently opened school in the nation’s capital Astana, and through Haileybury’s affiliation with the rugby team (1st team captain undertaking coaching sessions at Haileybury Almaty) was invited to advise on the re-construction and on-going maintenance of its national rugby stadium at Almaty, which he describes as a very challenging, continuous but fulfilling task he carries out with the full support of the school.

New Pellenc Brushcutter Launched

Developed for tough working applications and packed with advanced features for ease of use, Pellenc’s new Excelion brushcutter, distributed in the UK by Etesia UK, is the ideal maintenance tool for professional landscapers and contractors.

Featuring a brand new handlebar design and longer shaft, the Excelion is a unique tool which combines a brush and grass cutter in one: the multifunction head developed by Pellenc can be fitted with either the Pellenc wire made from a very high resistance polyamide or a wide range of metal blades adapted to your work. 

Further benefits include an ergonomically designed adjustable D-handle, flexible head and telescopic system featuring new soft anti-vibration grips for optimal comfort and increased safety. The brushcutter is exceptionally well balanced making it easy to use at varying angles in ditches, on slopes or steep inclines for added versatility. Two times lighter than some petrol brushcutters, the Excelion makes grass brushing and cutting much easier.

The 4-speed selector, exclusive to Pellenc has the durability to withstand tough conditions and demanding projects making it easier to adapt to the vegetation: slow speeds are recommended for edges and urban areas for example. Silent, rapid and extremely lightweight, the Excelion is the new brush cutter for professionals.

As with all other Pellenc products, the Excelion uses the ultra high capacity technology of the ultra lithium battery and guarantees non-polluting, odourless operation with quick start-up and a record operating range.

New Etesia Website Goes Live!

Etesia UK has just launched a brand-new website, showcasing their vast range of ride-on & pedestrian mowers, brushcutters and the complete range of Pellenc Lithium-ion battery powered equipment.

“Following years of being told that our UK website was in desperate need of updating, we are pleased to announce that our new website has now gone live”, said Les Malin, Etesia UK’s General Manager.

With a whole host of new features, the website has been totally redeveloped with both customers and dealers firmly in mind.

“As our customer base and product range continues to grow and expand, so must our ability to keep everyone up-to-date. We have therefore introduced a number of new sections on our website including the full range of Pellenc equipment”.

Other new features include:

  • Dealer locators for both the Etesia and Pellenc range of equipment.
  • A revised and updated product section, all with accompanying images and videos.
  • A warranty registration section for dealers.
  • A dedicated news section.
  • A resource section for useful downloads and links.

Heritage gardens are now ‘greener’ thanks to battery trimmers

National Trust properties in south Somerset have trimmed energy costs, time and noise as well as hedges this year. The four properties in this area of Trust administration switched to battery power in 2011 for the significant hedge cutting and topiary work that has to be undertaken annually and the results are significant. It is the Trust’s Greener Garden Fund for more ecologically sound outdoor upkeep of its properties that aided the purchase of Pellenc Helion lithium-ion battery-powered trimmers supplied by machinery specialists Bigwood and Partners of Taunton.

Lytes Cary Manor at Charlton Mackrell near Somerton dates back to the 14th century and was the home of medieval herbalist Henry Lyte, notable for his plant directory Lytes Herbal. Restored from dereliction 100 years ago by Sir Walter Jenner, its much-visited garden is a combination of outdoor ‘rooms’, topiary features, statues and herbaceous borders.

Damien Mitchell, the gardener-in-charge there, has two and half miles of hedging all told, predominantly of yew, hornbeam, beech, lime and privet. Work to keep them trim begins in mid-May and finishes in late October, which is peak visiting time and before now, when petrol or electric trimmers were used, this presented Damien with a variety of health and safety issues as well as user and visitor discomfort. Noise levels and trailing wires were the main offenders.

This year for the first time he used a Pellenc Helion hedge cutter with back-pack battery unit which drastically cut noise, user fatigue, and detrimental effect on passing visitors. These plusses alone would tick boxes in the Trust’s Greener Garden checklist, but a further bonus at Lytes Cary Manor is that power for the batteries comes from an on-site solar panel.  Three to four hours of free charging is enough for a day’s operation, so Damien’s cutting work is about as energy efficient as you can get and with zero carbon emission.

Topiary on yew close to the Manor itself and the shaping of 12 Apostles, a feature common to many large estate gardens of the time, also in yew, is a skillful trimming task that has to be conducted twice yearly. These are 100-year old features that demand serious attention and work on them this year has been noticeably more efficient, safer and quieter, reports Damien, who has up to four permanent gardening staff working at the property and about 50 volunteers.

“The new Pellenc trimmer is a lot more user friendly and the environmental advantages are considerable,” he says. “We are a lot more comfortable doing the work when visitors are here because they are not inconvenienced at all.”

Damien’s counterpart at nearby Tintinhull Garden, Tanis Roberts, has just volunteer support for her work at this 17th century manor house. Created last century, the gardens there have over 25,000 visitors each year and feature secluded lawns, pools and colourful borders, plus an attractive kitchen garden, woodland walk and orchard. Focal point is the Eagle Court and adjacent Middle Garden, characterised by striking boxwood domes along a central path.

Every year Tanis has the job of cutting the sixteen 100 year old plus Box domes. Until last year this was done by hand shears, which was laborious and would take about a month to complete. Tanis, who has been in charge of gardening at Tintinhull for nearly 20 years, had previously tried petrol trimmers, but the vapour caused scarring of leaves and the noise was an annoyance to visitors. She had also tried electric trimmers, but says she didn’t get a clean cut because the reciprocal action of the cutters chewed the edges of the leaves badly and caused similar unsightly browning. Hence a return to hand cutting, but with a number of different individuals using hand shears uniformity was hard to achieve, and this is essential with the domes, which are a precious heritage.

The Pellenc battery-powered trimmers she now uses have made it so much easier to achieve a smooth cut line, according to Tanis.

“There is no scorch and the risk of error is far less,” she says. “Switching to this equipment has saved me three weeks work – easily.”

Tintinhull is effectively a ‘subsidiary’ of Montecute House, another of the Trust’s south Somerset properties. Tanis borrows the Pellenc trimmers from there on a weekly basis and has them from Monday to Wednesday. At present she doesn’t have a solar panel facility, but plug-in powering of the battery overnight is sufficient for a day’s trimming.

“The back pack makes using them during visiting hours so much easier”, she adds. “You can easily step aside if need be, and visitors far from being inconvenienced by what you are doing, show a lot of interest in such quiet trimming.”

Tanis has also used the new trimmers on a bay arch in the gardens, also previously cut by hand shears. Bay is very tough to cut and you get a lot of chewed edges. The Pellenc trimmer made lighter work of it and with better results, she reports.  Another job, tedious with hand shears, the trimming of lower box edging around beds in the kitchen garden, has now been completed for the first time using the back-pack trimmers with very pleasing results.

So keen on the Pellenc trimmers is Tanis that she hopes to have her own for the 2012 cutting season at Tintinhull.

Two New Dealers Strengthen Etesia in the North West

Etesia UK have been working hard over the last few months in promoting both the Etesia & Pellenc product range and have seen a significant increase in brand awareness that has been highlighted by the rising number of new dealer appointments.

 

To strengthen their customer service across the North West regions, Turner Groundscare of Cheshire and Balmers Garden Machinery of Lancashire have both been added to the list.

 

Appointed to look after Lancashire and parts of West Yorkshire is Burnley-based Balmers Garden Machinery. Established in 1979, the business is owned and run by David Balmer and has built a good reputation in the commercial and domestic sector with a customer base of local councils, national contractors serving golf, football and cricket clubs coupled with domestic and smallholding customers. “We’ve been familiar with the Etesia products for many years”, commented David. “We were very impressed with the ride-on direct collection machines and this was a major reason behind us wanting to become an Etesia dealer”.

 

Responsibility for Cheshire, Greater Manchester, the Wirral and parts of north Wales has been given to the Chester branch of Turner Groundscare, a large supplier of machinery to the grounds maintenance industry and general public. Commenting on the appointment, Brian Spruce said: “We had an Etesia dealership at a previous site and when this area was made available, we jumped at the chance. We recognise that the Etesia products fill a void that we had in our commercial product range and with us being one of the larger dealers in the UK, it means that we have the ability to provide very high levels of service to our customers”.

 

Les Malin, UK General Manager of Etesia UK said: “We are actively looking to recruit new dealers for Etesia and Pellenc as well as our new product range the ET Mowers, a range of robotic mowers. The appointment of both Turner Groundscare and Balmers Garden Machinery mean that we now have knowledgeable and experienced teams supporting the Etesia brand across the North West with great contacts and strong links to the markets they serve”

Etesia Announce New Sales Appointment

Etesia UK is delighted to announce the appointment of Andrew Roberts as Northern Area Sales Manager for its range of Etesia and Pellenc Products. Andrew will be responsible for the North of England as well as The Midlands, Scotland and Wales.

 

Andrew joins Etesia UK with over 30 years experience in the grasscare sector and has an enviable and extensive knowledge of outdoor products and machinery having previously worked at Sisis Equipment (Macclesfield) Ltd.

 

Favoured by many of the UK’s top councils as well as landscapers and groundsmen, including National Trust gardens, both Etesia and Pellenc has gained a reputation for producing equipment that are highly reliable with low maintenance, making them the number one choice for many users.

 

Andrew’s responsibilities will include providing product advice, demonstrations and assistance to customers and dealers, as well as attending shows and exhibitions. He will also be responsible in the recruitment of new, approved dealers within his regions.

 

Les Malin, Etesia UK’s General Manager said: “We are extremely pleased with Andrew’s appointment as his extensive knowledge of the industry, our customer base and product range will enable him to build on our market position and ensure the highest levels of customer service are always achieved”.

 

Andrew can be contacted on 07792 894256 or aroberts@etesia.co.uk.

Etesia Choose SALTEX to Launch an Amazing 15 New Products

Etesia have chosen IOG SALTEX 2011 to launch an amazing fifteen new products, proving that the research and development teams in France have been extremely busy, with a heavy emphasis on Bio-friendly and four wheel drive products.

 

The first of the new products unveiled was a range of machines to be known as the ET Robot Mowers. There are three models available – ETm44, ETm65 and the ETm105.

 

The ETm44 is the baby model in the range and is dedicated for small areas. This model is perfect for anyone who wants to stop having to mow small and medium-sized areas of grass of up to 5000 m². Nine cutting positions from 22mm-75mm are available with a speed of up to 2km. Two driving wheels with six cutting blades on two decks and weighing only 26kg ensure a quality cut throughout the year.

 

The ETm65 is perfect for large open areas cared for by local authorities and companies that find mowing a considerable waste of time and money. It works very quietly, so can be used during the day or at night, whatever the weather, on grassed areas covering up to 9000 m². Eight cutting positions from 22mm-65mm are available with a speed of up to 3km. Two driving wheels with nine cutting blades on three decks, weighing only 36kg and capable of working up to 30% camber ensure that local authorities will have peace of mind allowing this machine to go on its business.

 

The ETm105 offers the top performance in our range with a 105cm cutting width and covers up to 20,000 m². Its capacity enables it to deal with very large areas, such as golf practice ranges, football and rugby stadia, racecourses, etc. Energy consumption is kept to a minimum, beating all energy-saving records. Eleven cutting positions from 22mm-80mm are available with a speed of up to 3.6km. Two driving wheels with fifteen cutting blades on five decks, weighing 51kg prove that this is no toy and capable of working in the most rugged of conditions.

 

First seen as a prototype model last autumn, is the new electric Bahia, which will be in full production later this year. The Bahia M2E is the world’s first fully electric ride-on cut and collect mower. Featuring all of the benefits of its petrol ‘brother’ which has made the Bahia a users favourite, with the added advantages of no odour, zero emissions, low noise, low vibrations, reduced maintenance costs and reduced health and safety issues for operators. The new model has been developed around the chassis of the petrol-powered Bahia models and effectively has the same compact look with a cutting width of 80cm and grass box capacity of 240 litres. Power comes from 4 acid/lead batteries producing 48V, 115 ah and conveniently located under the operator’s seat which can be re-charged within six hours via a 16amp 200v power socket.

 

Cutting and collecting is directly comparable to the petrol version with a guaranteed mowing time of 2 hours or 2500m². Both the drive and cutting transmissions are 100% electric. This machine has recently been on trail at both the Church Commission in London and Forest Green Rovers – a Blue Square Premiership League club aiming to be the world’s first entirely green and eco self-sufficient club.

 

An optional solar panel for re-charging is also available and is on show outside – further enhancing the green credentials of this new machine. This is another machine to join our Bio concept family.

 

Two new ride-on mowers are next. Both are 4 Wheel Drive with one being a dedicated high performance mulcher with a 144cmm cutting width – the H144MX. The other being the HVHPX – an LPG powered 4 wheel drive version of the 124P which was launched at SALTEX last year. These two new machines mean that it’s two more machines for the Bio concept and also two more with the letter ‘X’ denoting 4 Wheel Drive.

 

Three new ride-on brushcutters have also been launched. All three models share the distinctive body styling of the highly popular Attila AV98. Starting with the smallest AV88, it has a 16hp Briggs & Stratton Vanguard engine, 88cm cutting width and like the rest of the Attila range, hydrostatic drive. The chassis has a strengthened structure welded tubular chassis for a better driving position, and along with an electric start offers operators a high comfort level. An easily adjusted cutting height along with a rack-and-pinion steering system means that Etesia has paid special attention to sound and vibration levels to reduce them to a very low level.

 

The second is the new shape AV95 which now incorporates front brakes for better control on descents. Power comes from the twin cylinder 18hp Briggs & Stratton Vanguard engine which provides outstanding performance in demanding working conditions and combines reliability for a long life and a 95cm cutting width. The cutting height can easily be adjusted by a centralised lever with five positions from 25mm to 85mm.

 

Now to the last of the three new models, the AV98X, again 4 wheel drive. This unit has powerful motors in the rear that also power the front wheels. Power is supplied by a 23hp Briggs & Stratton Vanguard engine with a 98cm cutting width. The new model also has a built in slope indicator for safer driving at all times.

 

So now to the new Pedestrian mowers, starting with the Pro 53 mower (LKX) which offers exceptional handling and drive thanks to the new hydraulic transmission with differential lock. It guarantees very flexible forward movement. Controlled at the handlebar, the differential lock offers greater traction, in addition to a downhill braking effect for enhanced safety.

Following this, Etesia have the ME53C – a dedicated mulcher fitted with a Kholer X7 engine. On test, Etesia say that this engine seems to have a significant improvement over its predecessor.

 

Lastly on the Etesia front is the Pro 46 PHG2. Etesia have long been recognised as producing machines for the commercial operator, and over the course of six years we have been working with the UK’s largest grass cutting local authority to produce a machine capable of meeting their demanding workload. As a result of this they have now produced a 46cm walk-behind mower with a large capacity 2.5 litre petrol tank designed to allow the operator to complete a full day’s work without the need to re-fuel. A mulching kit is also available.

 

Now on to the new Pellenc products, which the company says fit perfectly into the Bio concept family. Etesia UK have been the exclusive UK importers of Pellenc products since April last year and now have approaching 40 dealers across the country and are rapidly extending the dealer network as we speak, with new regions being offered to interested parties.

 

Invention and innovation are passions of Pellenc, which have led the group to much of its success. Throughout their entire range of machines, they try to offer added comfort and greater productivity in environments where work can be exhausting. The end user is the main focus of all of their development procedures, which drives their engineering teams to optimise the design of tools.

 

Pellenc are now pleased to offer a new solar charging station – the Solerion for use with all of the tools and a new highly powerful multi-function battery – The ULB1100, the next generation battery.

 

Once the Solerion panels are installed, they use an MPPT load regulator. The MPPT function stands for Maximum Power Point Tracking. This function basically scans the photo panel cells and monitors the power drawn from them, and then optimises it with the battery connected. This detection is all done automatically. A maximum of three batteries can be charged at one time, by using three separate convertors. A Poly5 battery can be recharged in normal sunlight levels in under just three hours as opposed to five hours on a standard 2.2a mains charger.

 

The new ULB1100 battery has been designed to deliver higher power. It is primarily aimed at the most “power-hungry” tools in the Pellenc range. The lithium polymer components heat up less allowing higher uninterrupted power when cutting. The new battery consists of lithium polymer elements, which have a very high power-to-weight ratio. As an example the 1100 weighs the same as the old 800 batteries, but will power a C20 chainsaw for up to 2 days and the Lixion shears for a staggering 10 days!

 

The Airion vacuum blower was officially launched earlier this year in France and then Demo Park in June. Officially it was launched to the UK market at this year’s show.

 

The Airion hand held blower is a tool intended for cleaning roads, parks and gardens. Weighing only 2.6 kg and with a noise level of 80 db, it is the lightest and quietest of professional blowers currently available on the market and can be used near sensitive areas such as schools, hospitals and residential areas. It is very comfortable to hold owing to the soft touch new generation handgrip and is optimally balanced for natural tilting towards the ground. The Airion has 4 speeds which enable the operator to optimise and adjust the speed of the air expelled according to the working environment and the site to be cleaned – dry leaves, wet leaves, on gravel, etc.

 

Keeping the speed selector button pressed instantly selects the booster mode, giving a maximum blow of 800m³/hr. This function is especially useful for picking up wet vegetation or heavy waste matter. This mode is also available for all speeds. The progressive trigger enables the airflow to be controlled very precisely. The principal advantage is efficient battery management. On roads, the trigger can prevent the scattering of gravel. The inlet grille has been specially designed to reduce the sound level as much as possible while maintaining exceptional blowing performance.

 

For further information, please contact Etesia UK on 01295 680120 or visit www.etesia.com/uk

 

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forest_green_rovers

Rovers 1 Carbon Footprint 0

Green is the driving force at ambitious Blue Square club

 

The boss of Ecotricity, the green electricity company which this summer hit the headlines with the launch of a countrywide network of solar power re-charging points for electric cars, is extending his mission statement and business ethos to the world of football. He is one of the first if not the first businessman to own and run an electric car, so where to next? As the kick-off to the 2011-2012 season approached pitch mowing became part of all this with a new mower from Etesia being launched at this year’s IOG Saltex the focal point.

 

Dale Vince OBE took over as Chairman of Forest Green Rovers just nine months ago and is step by step transforming the Blue Square Premiership club into an entirely green and eco self-sufficient enterprise. The aim is to make it the first such club in British professional football. Water recycling from all sources – rainwater and the washing-up – is already very much a feature at the delightful Gloucestershire stadium, charmingly called the New Lawn. There is a five-year sustainability plan and the first building blocks are firmly in place. He’s called what’s starting to happen to car powering a revolution. There may well be a similar kick-start in the world of football.

 

The Club had moved just a few hundred yards from its previous abode on the edge of the country town of Nailsworth back in 2006. Not surprisingly thisforest_green_rovers was called the Lawn. Rovers’ new home is a handsome stadium, certainly for this level of the football pyramid, but as groundsman Stewart Ward points out, the initial pitch did require subsequent improvement, notably a fresh drainage system installed by contractors Pugh-Lewis and which links into a water recycling set-up.

 

Stewart’s appointment last year was another move in the green direction for the Rovers, since he shares the Chairman’s thinking wholeheartedly. He explains that the philosophy at the club is a simple one – to be more sustainable, greener in its day to day running, and have a more organic approach to how they do things. It is Stewart’s first venture into football groundsmanship. He and Forest Green Rovers seem tailor-made for each other.

“The chairman is passionate about all of this and is very much a father-figure for putting it into action,” he says.

 

“Obviously this very much affects the way I keep the pitch in shape. What Dale has in mind for the club is very much how I have always felt and I am really enjoying putting it into practice bit by bit. There’s a lot more to do of course.”

 

Stewart had been a user of Etesia machines in his previous job looking after the grounds at Gloucester’s Hartbury College, best known for its equine, sports and landscape science courses, and had long been a fan of the French manufacturer’s attention to environmental aspects of product development. It has been working on battery and solar-powered ride-on mowers for sometime as a practical eco alternative to traditional fossil fuelled machines for sports and amenity surface cutting.

 

As part of the fine-tuning process prior to IOG Saltex launch Stewart used one of the company’s new Bahia Electric ride-ons on trial for pre-season cutting. The idea was to provide Etesia’s UK general manager Les Malin with real feedback on its performance. It was the breaking of new ground. Forest Green Rovers was the first football club in this country to use electric mowing for its pitch, and Stewart gave it a good report – not just because of his own eco leanings – but for its cutting and collecting credentials.

 

“It does the job really well and at a decent speed,” he said. “It’s so much quieter than a petrol machine with much less vibration too, and of course there is absolutely no worry about oil or fuel spillage.”

 

The New Lawn pitch was renewed at the end of May. Koro removal of the previous surface was followed by the addition of 150 tons of sand and re-seeding with Rigby Taylor’s R14 mix, incidentally the same as used at Stamford Bridge.

 

The Bahia machine on trial at the New Lawn was plug-in re-chargeable, but it could be that the club will eventually opt for solar powering the four 48v batteries. Full charging takes six hours via a 16amp 200v socket and charger. This, says Stewart, is about twice what you need for cutting and collecting a full size pitch, and the New Lawn is a big one, 100 x 70 yards.

 

The Bahia’s cutting width is 80cm and with the newly established summer sward Stewart showed off an impressive mown look, invitingly ready for the club’s first home pre-season friendly against Bristol City. He was confident that the New Lawn would be looking immaculate two weeks later for the first home league fixture against Stockport County when Sky Television cameras would be putting the mower’s finish to public gaze.

 

Stewart sees that all pitch cuttings are recycled, passing them to a local farmer. All clippings are 100 per cent non-toxic at the New Lawn because all pitch treatments are organic-based and he is regularly in touch with the Soil Association for advice on nutrient application. He says the grass box on Etesia’s new electric mower (240 litres) does an efficient collecting job for him. Both driving and cutting transmission are 100% electric, so there’s absolutely no addition to the eco footprint.

 

For a football club chairman and its groundsman to share an interest is rare enough. For them both to embrace the virtues of a piece of turf kit is a big first in football. All the nasties that combustive equipment put into the atmosphere – hydrocarbons, carbon dioxide, the lot – score nil at the New Lawn thanks to the Etesia Bahia and this gets a big cheer from the directors box and the groundsman’s hut. Supporters may for the moment be more interested in how the team is doing, but the green mood is definitely catching down at FGR.

 

Groundsmen wanting to see Etesia’s new Bahia ride-on electric mower and the optional solar power re-charging source for themselves can do so by visiting stand UO5 and demo plot UO4 at IOG Saltex.

 

For further information, please contact Etesia UK on 01295 680120 or visit www.etesia.com/uk

 

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Photo Captions:

1. Stewart Ward using the Etesia Bahia on the New Lawn pitch
2. A solar power re-charging source – an extra ‘green’ option
3. Forest Green Rovers will be playing on a really green pitch this season
4. The ground’s water recycling unit shows chairman Dale Vince really means green business at FGR